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Guerrilla Job Search Case Study

Detroit Woman Hired in Only 7 Weeks: Guerrilla Job Search Case Study

Gail Neal, from Detroit, Michigan, started looking for work on June 7, 2009.

For 15 weeks, she had zero interviews with employers.

However, after discovering guerrilla job search tactics on Sept. 21, interviews came quickly, and she accepted a new job 7 weeks later, on November 11.

This, amid the worst national unemployment in 26 years, in a city where the jobless rate tops 17%.

What did she do differently? Five things ...

  1. Turn Online Contacts into Offline Opportunities

    Neal learned of the job she eventually took at a job search seminar. She says, "I met a gentleman who's a member of my network, who I recognized from his photo on LinkedIn. I introduced myself and he mentioned a radio station that was hiring," she says.

    Turning an online contact into an offline encounter -- and job lead -- is smart. Very smart.

    But there’s more to the story ….

  2. The Trojan Thank-You Letter

    In applying for the job, Neal inserted a Guerrilla-style resume and cover letter into a small, square envelope meant for a thank-you note. "I stuffed them in there, hand-addressed it, and put them in the mail" on Monday, September 21.

    The first line of her cover letter -- sent inside the thank-you note envelope -- read, "Thank you for reading my letter." Get it? This provoked a smile and built instant rapport with the reader.

    On Thursday, she called to follow up with the employer. According to Neal, she "didn't get anywhere" with this call, because the general manager didn’t recognize her name.

    Yet, that same general manager called her back on Friday, Sept. 25. "He didn't want me to go the whole weekend without knowing that the sales manager would be calling me the following week, and he did first thing on Monday morning," says Neal.

    So her “Trojan Thank-You Letter” definitely made an impact.

  3. Smart Research Leads to Smart Interviewing

    Neal proved to the employer that she knew the company and could make a rapid contribution. "I went online and found out about their corporate structure, and I developed intelligent questions based on those observations, so I was able to hold a pretty good conversation."

    The interview went well, but the hiring manager confessed that they were likely going to hire somebody else.

    Time to give up, right? Wrong.

    Neal followed through intelligently, because you never know what might happen. "I sent a thank-you email and I mailed a thank-you card to both the sales manager and the office manager" -- the two people Neal had met at her interview.

    A week later, Neal was contacted by the sales manager: one of his employees had resigned. Guess who was the top candidate for consideration? "He told me to talk to the general manager and I would be in," says Neal.

    (How often have you given up on an employer after a job went to someone else? Remember this word: Attrition. Because "no" today doesn't mean "no" forever.)

    It turns out that, for EEOC purposes, they had to start the hiring process again for the new position, but Neal now had the inside track.

  4. More Research Leads to More Success

    Her second job interview was September 30, nine days after first applying.

    How did she prepare?

    "I went to the library, where I have access to the Reference USA database" of company names, and addresses. She looked up potential sales leads, printed the contact information and started making phone calls. "I brought the sales leads to the second interview and actually identified people who wanted appointments," says Neal.

    This was Gail's way of "starting work before you're hired," a proven guerrilla tactic.

    (Most major libraries have a subscription to Reference USA or a similar database. Call your local library or go online to find out.)

  5. Give Employers Another Reason to Hire You

    Neal was asked to come back. "Between the second and third interview, I found some relevant blogs. I emailed the links to the sales manager. At the third interview, we discussed these, as well as the sales leads I had brought in before."

    The employer asked Neal several questions about the sales process, which, based on her research, she answered well.

    Did emailing links to blogs give that employer another reason to hire Neal?

    "I think so, because it showed that I'm thinking about the industry and I'm an active player," says Neal.

    But the proof is in the job offer, and Neal accepted hers on November 11.

    To sum up: Neal turned a chance encounter with a person from her online network into an employment lead, then pursued that lead with creativity and diligence.

    As a result, she found work in only 7 weeks, 73% faster than the national average of 26.9 weeks (according to U.S. Dept. of Labor statistics).

That’s the power of unconventional, guerrilla job search tactics.

- Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Click here for a free glimpse of the Guerrilla Job Search System DVD.